Four words meaning “I”( 私;わたし;Watashi) in Japanese

In Japanese, the word “I” (私;わたし;Watashi) is used in formal and also informal contexts in both writing and speaking. While this is the most common word for “I”, there are three other words meaning “I”. 「あたし;Atashi 」is a word used informally, especially in spoken languages to mean “I” by female speakers. 「僕;ぼく;Boku」is used both formally and informally by male speakers. 「俺;おれ;Ore」is used informally by male speakers. While it may be the case that these words can be gender-neutral words in contexts like manga and novels, it is important to distinguish them and use in appropriate contexts. Also, by adding 「たち;Tashi」, the meaning becomes “We”, so 「私たち;わたしたち;Watashitachi」, 「あたしたち;Atashitachi」, 「僕たち;ぼくたち;Bokutachi」and 「俺たち;おれたち;Oretachi」.




「私;わたし;Watashi」: when and how it is used


「私;わたし;Watashi」is likely to be the most common word used to mean “I”. Unlike the other three words meaning “I”, everyone uses this one.


Example sentences:


Watashi no namae wa Yamaguchi desu.

私の名前は山口です。

わたしのなまえはやまぐちです。

My (sur) name is Yamaguchi.


Watashi wa ongaku wo kiku kotoga suki desu.

私は音楽を聴くことが好きです。

わたしはおんがくをきくことがすきです。

I like listening to music.


Watashi no shorai no yume wa kashu desu.

わたしの将来の夢は歌手です。

わたしのしょうらいのゆめはかしゅです。

My future dream is to be a singer.


Like these example sentences, you use “I” 「私;わたし;Watashi」to talk anything about “me”.


「あたし;Atashi」: When and how it is used


「あたし;Atashi」is an informal spoken word used by female speakers to mean “I” or 「私;わたし;Watashi」. You use 「あたし;Atashi」in conversations among friends to make it more informal.


Example sentences:


Atashi mo suki!

あたしも好き!

あたしもすき!

I like it, too!


Atashi no pen minakatta?

あたしのペン見なかった?

あたしのペンミなかった?